Nanotechnology Law Roundup

Law.com has published an interesting interview recently conducted by the New York Law Journal with several leading figures in nanotechnology research. They discuss the potential impact (which is, needless to say, huge) of nanoscale technological developments on law and society. With investor capital approaching USD $1bn in 2005, there is likely to be significant and imminent progress in this dynamic area of science:

Q: What would you advise the legal community regarding the advance of nanotechnology? A: We are in the ‘Age of innovation.’ Society is changing not only through nanotechnology, but in connection with converging technologies integrated at the nanoscale, impacting policies about investments, laws, and education. The legal system is important to guard personal freedom of decision and the right of each individual to have access to the best information in a society expected to become more complex because of the rapid advance of these technologies.

The interviewees identify several areas of law as being impacted by new research: foremost, intellectual property. Various issues are associated with the development of new structures and substances. For instance, while one can quite clearly patent a molecule (see, eg, the unfortunately-titled Nano-Tsunami), to what extent can core elements of the research be protected by patent? Will the law limit the scope of protections to ensure scientific advancement is not monopolised by patent-hungry corporations? Another legally interesting implication is actions under the civil law seeking compensation for disease and contamination. Can researchers be sued in negligence for the actual — or possible — side-effects of their research?

Source: Sonia Miller, New York Law Journal